Each term every school in Kent receives a big, green, recycled envelope, packed full of information relating to environmental education. Formally known as the ‘Environmental Education Information System’, the nickname ‘Big Green Envelopes’ or ‘BGE’ seems to have become commonly adopted.
The system is funded by Kent County Council’s (KCC) Environmental Programme and distribution is possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Woolwich Building Society. The envelopes are packaged and prepared by the County Coordinator for environmental education with the frequent help of members of the Environmental Forum.
There are a number of significant features of the BGE that are worthy of note. A fundamental one has to be that the Kent County Council Environment Programme pays for all of its 800 schools to be members of the National Association for Environmental Education, making Kent the largest membership group in the NAEE and as such, the largest ‘local organization’. The termly journal of the NAEE is an important element of the contents of the BGE. Similarly, Kent subscribes to the Council for Environmental Education (CEE) and Learning Through Landscapes, and the news-sheets from these organizations are also included.
Contents of the BGE, usually over 20 items, are generally grouped to begin with local information from KCC about courses, Environmental Teachers’ Support Groups (ETSG), school grounds developments, recycling opportunities and so on, followed by national information from NAEE, CEE, etc. Also included is regular information from the Kent Trust for Nature Conservation, Kent’s Field Centres and a host of other organizations such as the Canterbury Urban Studies Centre or Whitbread Hop Farm. There are often special features, for example Cooperative Retail Services recently sponsored a poetry festival on the theme of ‘Environmental Care’ and this was coordinated in Kent through the BGE.
Communication with schools is a two-way process. Through the BGE,